Going beyond yourself in favor of others leads to more happiness
Paradoxically, you can achieve greater levels of happiness by going beyond your own happiness and focusing on helping others.
As a new idea in my mind, this is by no means a solid source. I'm happy to hear your thoughts and learn better.
"Self actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence"
Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning
Just as self actualization can't be pursued, self-transcending is the side-effect of striving to helping others.
Self-transcending is painful and intrinsically hard to be motivated for. After all, motivation is a manifestation of the self ("I want/desire/need").
- This creates a chicken and egg problem which needs the help of others to break - more precisely, helping others.
- Another possible route for self-transcending is an external shock - usually of grief or necessity. For example, I imagine most volunteers in an environmental crisis zone shut their ego entirely to focus on helping those in need.
Paradoxically, it's precisely by abdicating of your own that you become happier and actualized. In a society ever more focused on the individual, with demands and expectations that are ever-increasing, I imagine people will get more and more miserable.
- And quarantines and the distance normalized by the digital medium and its personalized feeds are making this harder to bear.
Work & creativity can gain extra layers of meaning by actively helping others.